DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admits 1 in 5 migrants have an 'illness'

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admits 1 in 5 migrants have an 'illness'
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admits 1 in 5 migrants have an 'illness'

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday he did not expect such a surge in the Delta Covid-19 variant as he admitted that the 'rate of illness' at the southern border is now 20%.   

'What I didn't expect was the tragic rise of the delta variant,' the secretary said at the virtual Immigration Law and Policy Conference Monday afternoon. 'And we took a step back by reason of that. I did not expect to be in late September where we are.'

He said that one in five migrants are showing up at the border with an 'illness.'

'We are confronted with a population of people that, as a general matter, that have a rate of illness of approximately 20%.' 

'When one is speaking of 7,000 or 7,500 people encountered at the border every day, if one takes a look at that the system, it is not built for that in a Covid environment where isolation is required,' Mayorkas said. 

He said that many were willing to endure the 'level of violence' it took to embark on the dangerous journey across Latin America to the US border because of economic desperation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and compounded by a major earthquake in Haiti last month, and political instability that left Haiti's prime minister assassinated in July.  

It is not clear how the secretary came to the 20% figure, as he has long said DHS does not have the capacity to test every individual arriving at the southern border and relies on local governments and communities for help.  

On Friday, Mayorkas had told reporters that he did not know how many of the nearly 17,000 once camped out under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas had contracted Covid-19 as DHS was not testing the migrants. 

'We did not test that population of individuals,' Mayorkas said. 'We do not know, I do not know, I should say if I may be perfectly accurate, I do not know if anyone was sick with COVID. We certainly had some people get sick, not with COVID to my knowledge and we addressed their illnesses.' 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been slammed by Republicans after admitting that 12,000 Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S., claiming that number could increase as 5,000 other cases are still being processed

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been slammed by Republicans after admitting that 12,000 Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S., claiming that number could increase as 5,000 other cases are still being processed

He also said Sunday on Fox News that over 12,000 of those migrants had been released into the US, and that number could go up as 5,000 are still being processed. 

Nearly 4,000 were sent away under Title 42, a coronavirus public health order. Mayorkas said that given the 20% 'rate of illness' figure, the Center for Disease Control's Title 42 order was 'quite understandable.' 

He said that DHS had plans in order in case Title 42 is struck down in court, as he again underscored that it was a public health order, not an immigration policy.  

Former President Trump, meanwhile, claimed that the migrants had been released 'with no vetting, checking or even minimal understanding of who they are.' 

'Some are very sick with extremely contagious diseases, even worse than the China Virus. They are not masked or mandated, but just let free to roam all over our Country and affect what was just a year ago, a great Nation.' 

It's not clear what diseases the former president was referring to.  

Photographs show brief moments of normalcy as Haitian migrants try to make their way to the United States.

Images captured Sunday show tourists wondering about a Colombian beach as Haitian migrants play soccer while they wait to embark for the dangerous Darien jungle and begin their journey to the US. 

Some Haitians were seen playing games, including dominoes, with fellow Venezuelan travelers who are also hoping to seek asylum in the U.S.

The newly released images come as thousands more Haitian migrants are embarking on a perilous journey through Latin America to reach the US, after US officials cleared out an encampment nearly 17,000 strong outside Del Rio, Texas last week. 

Up to 4,000 Haitian migrants have already crossed the Darien Gap in Panama along the Colombian border, a roadless, 66-mile stretch of treacherous jungle, Panamanian government sources tell Reuters. Some of them wait in camps in Mexico before continuing their journey.  

Meanwhile, another 16,000 wait at a northern Colombian border town, Necocli, waiting for their shot to jump on a boat to take them to the Darien Gap, where smugglers will guide them north through one of the most inhospitable regions in Latin America.  

Photographs show brief moments of normalcy as Haitian migrants try to make their way to the United States. Tourists are seen wondering about a Colombian beach as migrants play soccer while they wait to embark for the dangerous Darien jungle

Photographs show brief moments of normalcy as Haitian migrants try to make their way to the United States. Tourists are seen wondering about a Colombian beach as migrants play soccer while they wait to embark for the dangerous Darien jungle

Haitian migrants play soccer as they camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia on September 26

Haitian migrants play soccer as they camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia on September 26

Some Haitians were seen playing games, including dominoes, with fellow Venezuelan travelers who are also hoping to seek asylum in the U.S.

Some Haitians were seen playing games, including dominoes, with fellow Venezuelan travelers who are also hoping to seek asylum in the U.S.

A woman is seen holding a child as she sits at the migrant camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia

A woman is seen holding a child as she sits at the migrant camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia

Migrants are seen in the water off of a beach in Necocli as a motor boat passes by

Migrants are seen in the water off of a beach in Necocli as a motor boat passes by

Photographs released Monday show tourists and Haitian migrants share a beach in Necocli, Colombia over the weekend.

Migrants are seen enjoying the beach as they remain stranded waiting for boats to cross into neighboring Panama on their way to the U.S.

They are finding ways to unwind as they wait for space on boats that cross will to the other side of the Gulf of Uraba, the end of Colombia, where some 17,000 people wait to continue their way to North America. 

Only 500 people each day can board on the boats that leave them in Acandi - a town in northern Columbia - to begin their journey through the Darien Gap, which separates Colombia from Panama. 

The photos from the beach paint a strikingly different narrative than images showing caravans of migrants attempting to cross through jungles, rivers and other dangerous conditions.

Migrants are seen relaxing in a hammock in Necocli as they wait for the day when they can embark for the Darien

Migrants are seen relaxing in a hammock in Necocli as they wait for the day when they can embark for the Darien 

Haitian migrants camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia. Many of them arrived days, even weeks ago, from Chile or Brazil, as part of their route towards the United States

Haitian migrants camp on a beach in Necocli, Colombia. Many of them arrived days, even weeks ago, from Chile or Brazil, as part of their route towards the United States

Haitian and Venezuelan migrants play dominoes in Necocli, Colombia on September 26 as they wait for space on the boats that will help them cross to the other side of the Gulf of Uraba

Haitian and Venezuelan migrants play dominoes in Necocli, Colombia on September 26 as they wait for space on the boats that will help them cross to the other side of the Gulf of Uraba

Migrants were seen fishing in Necocli so they can provide meals for their families

Migrants were seen fishing in Necocli so they can provide meals for their families

A migrant is seen touching a piggy bank in Necocli, Colombia over the weekend

A migrant is seen touching a piggy bank in Necocli, Colombia over the weekend

Stranded Venezuelan migrants remain in Necocli, Colombia, on September 24, 2021

Stranded Venezuelan migrants remain in Necocli, Colombia, on September 24, 2021

Haitian migrants offer support to Venezuelans in Necocli as they all remain stranded waiting for boats to cross into neighboring Panama on their way to the United States

Haitian migrants offer support to Venezuelans in Necocli as they all remain stranded waiting for boats to cross into neighboring Panama on their way to the United States

While 16,000 people remain in Necocli waiting for smugglers to help them cross through 'one of the most dangerous and impassable regions of Latin America,' approximately 4,000 migrants have passed through Panama and are en route to the U.S., Reuters reported on Monday.

The group is largely comprised of Haitians, but also includes some people from Cuba, Venezuela and other nations.

Images shared over the weekend show migrants hiking through the jungle and wadding across waters.

Men, women and children were seen carrying their minimal belongings through the treacherous conditions.

Both Colombia and Panama are allowing 500 migrants to cross through their borders each day, a number that is 'far fewer' than the 1,500 arrivals that have been reported daily.

Panama President Laurentino Cortizo announced at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that more than 80,000 migrants have traveled through the nation this year.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry argued that those numbers would continue because of 'global inequity'. 

'Migration will continue as long as the planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world's population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospects of a better life,' he told the U.N. on Saturday. 

Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Choco department, Colombia, heading to Panama, on September 26, 2021, as they try to reach the US

Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Choco department, Colombia, heading to Panama, on September 26, 2021, as they try to reach the US

Images shared over the weekend show migrants hiking through the jungle and wadding across waters. Men, women and children were seen carrying their minimal belongings through the treacherous conditions

Images shared over the weekend show migrants hiking through the jungle and wadding across waters. Men, women and children were seen carrying their minimal belongings through the treacherous conditions

The dangerous trek of at least five days to Panama through the Darien jungle requires migrants to battle snakes, steep ravines, swollen rivers, tropical downpours and criminals often linked to drug trafficking

The dangerous trek of at least five days to Panama through the Darien jungle requires migrants to battle snakes, steep ravines, swollen rivers, tropical downpours and criminals often linked to drug trafficking

Both Colombia and Panama are allowing 500 migrants to cross through their borders each day, a number that is 'far fewer' than the 1,500 arrivals that have been reported daily

Both Colombia and Panama are allowing 500 migrants to cross through their borders each day, a number that is 'far fewer' than the 1,500 arrivals that have been reported daily

While 16,000 people remain in Necocli, Colombia waiting for smugglers to help them cross through 'one of the most dangerous and impassable regions of Latin America,' approximately 4,000 migrants have already passed through Panama and are en route to the U.S.

While 16,000 people remain in Necocli, Colombia waiting for smugglers to help them cross through 'one of the most dangerous and impassable regions of Latin America,' approximately 4,000 migrants have already passed through Panama and are en route to the U.S.

Thousands of migrants continue attempt to make their way from South America to the U.S. borders (Pictured: Migrants crossing the Darien Gap near Acandi)

Thousands of migrants continue attempt to make their way from South America to the U.S. borders (Pictured: Migrants crossing the Darien Gap near Acandi)

A group of migrants is seen hiking through the jungle region on Sept. 26, carrying water bottles, sleeping bags and other essential supplies

A woman helps her child wade through a stream as a group of migrants embarks on a journey through the Darien Gap

 A woman helps her child wade through a stream as a group of migrants embarks on a journey through the Darien Gap

Why Haitians are fleeing to America: 

Thousands of Haitians have crossed the border into Texas in weeks and months to seek asylum in America. 

Data released by Border Patrol shows 28,000 Haitians have been arrested along the border this fiscal year, which began last October - dwarfing the 2020 number of 4,395 and 2,046 in 2019. 

Last month alone, 6,768 Haitians were detained by Border Patrol, up from 5,000 in July.  

Most Haitians who have traveled to the border in recent weeks are thought to have already been living in South America after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010 which killed over 200,000 people.

Many have then traveled up through Mexico into the US  recently - driven by the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on South America. 

Republicans have argued that the influx of people has also been driven by the pause on deportation flights to Haiti by the Biden administration.  

In May, the Biden administration's DHS designated Haiti for temporary protected status (TPS) as the nation was in the grips of 'human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.'

Under TPS, foreign nationals cannot be deported back to countries hit by natural or manmade disasters, enabling Haitians to live in the US without legal status to qualify for provisional residency. 

Then, in early July, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home of Port-au-Prince in a dramatic plot which authorities are yet to determine who the mastermind was.

The murder threw the troubled nation into uncertainty with gun battles breaking out in the streets and a fight over who was the rightful successor as questions continued to mount about a possible inside job. 

This week, Haiti's chief prosecutor said there was evidence linking the country's Prime Minister Ariel Henry to the plot and banned him from leaving the country until he answers questions about his potential involvement.

One month after the assassination, the island nation was dealt another blow as a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck in August. More than 2,200 people were killed and 100,000 homes destroyed. 

In August, Biden extended and expanded the TPS further. While it only applies to Haitians already residing in the US, critics argue many have traveled there believing they can seek asylum.

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Former ICE Director Tom Homan accused Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of misleading the public after the Biden official finally said 12,000 Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S. 

'It's much more than that and he knows that,' Homan said.

In an interview with Fox on Monday morning, the Trump-era immigration official said Mayorkas underestimated the number of migrants successfully crossing the southwest border because he didn't account for people who

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